Jon Iwata thinks harnessing communications is the solution to problems, personal and professional.
On a personal level you see it in Iwata’s use of multiple forms of internet social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others. On a professional level his let’s-all-share-what-we-know philosophy drives his work as IBM’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications.
“The ability to put everything together, from influencer work to policy thinking, employees, analysts, the media, the bloggers, the VCs, the advertising world, the direct marketing world and have that aligned so we speak with once voice against all of these audiences is the promised land,” he declares.
Iwata believes that encouraging IBM’s 400,000 employees to use the internet’s vast social networking resources to share their enthusiasms and grumbles with all and sundry will help IBM bolster its place as the industry leader in corporate information technology and consulting space. That vision is also reflected in the IBM Smarter Planet advertising campaign which he kicked off in 2008.
Iwata sees the internet’s latest incarnation — what he calls Web 2.0 — as “tapping into the power of billions of people having the tools and the power to produce their own content and publish their own points of view and connect with each other.”
This passion for harnessing communications in all forms as a creative force in business is reflected in the way IBM has folded so many core functions into Iwata’s domain. It has expanded beyond controlling and enhancing the brand with consumers and partners to include employee citizenship organization, workplace enablement, new-product demand-generation and a central role in IBM’s strategic planning. Iwata reports directly to Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano as a member of IBM’s Operating Team, Strategy Team and vice chairman of the IBM International Foundation.
Iwata is more than a corporate face or mouthpiece. He’s enough of a techie and thinker to boast a patent in his name as co-inventor of a piece of advanced semiconductor lithography technology.
Iwata graduated with a B.A. in journalism and mass communications from San Jose State University. His landed his first IBM job in 1984 in the communications department of the company’s Almaden Research Center. Five years later he moved across the country to IBM’s headquarters in Armonk, New York. In 1995 he became vice president of corporate communications. He moved up to senior vice president of communications in 2002. On July 1, 2008 he took on his current responsibilities over IBM’s unified communications, marketing and employee citizenship activities.
Iwata is a members of the UC Economic Advisory Group, the Technology Committee of the Museum of Modern Art and a trustee of the Arthur W. Page Society. He is a past chairman of a group of chief communications officers called The Seminar.